Ex-Pakistan PM Imran Khan calls off march to avoid ‘chaos’ | News

Imran Khan also announced that his party will resign from the provincial assemblies in the first meeting after his assassination.

Former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan canceled a “long march” to the capital Islamabad, fearing chaos, and announced his party would quit state assemblies in a new bid to hold early elections.

“I have decided not to go to Islamabad because I know there will be destruction and it will be bad for the country,” Khan said in his first public address in the garrison city of Rawalpindi, near the capital, since the assassination attempt earlier this year. Month

Al Jazeera’s Kamal Haider, reporting from Islamabad, said Khan made an impassioned plea to his supporters, saying “chaos” was not in Pakistan’s interest as the country was facing an economic crisis.

The South Asian country has been facing a dire economic situation – with rampant inflation and an oppressive rupee. It also had to guarantee an International Monetary Fund (IMF) loan in August to avoid default.

The cricketer-turned-politician and his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party have staged nationwide protests to press the government for early elections since he was ousted by a no-confidence vote in April. He has claimed he was removed as part of a US-led conspiracy. Although earlier this month, he said the United States was not behind his ouster in a major U-turn.

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The protests were set to culminate in a march on Islamabad, threatening to escalate political unrest in the nuclear-armed nation struggling with an economic crisis. A rally of his supporters in Islamabad turned violent in May.

Supporters of Imran Khan, former Prime Minister of Pakistan.
Supporters of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party of Imran Khan, the former prime minister of Pakistan, participated in a rally in Rawalpindi. [Anjum Naveed/AP Photo]

PTI walks out of state assemblies

One of his biggest announcements was the withdrawal plan from two provincial assemblies and two administrative units.

We will not be part of this system. “We have decided to leave all assemblies and leave this corrupt system.”

Tehreek-e-Insaf has already resigned from the federal parliament but remains in power in two provinces and two administrative units – Gilgit-Baltistan and Pakistan-administered Kashmir.

Al Jazeera’s correspondent said that Khan’s decision to resign from the provincial assemblies of Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, was to put pressure on the government to hold early elections.

“The dissolution of state assemblies could create a major crisis, as the country would have no choice but to hold early elections — something Khan has been demanding since he was ousted as prime minister in April,” Hyder reported.

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“Now the ball will be in the government’s court.”

Khan delivered his speech on Saturday hundreds of meters away from a crowd of 25,000 to 30,000 people separated by barbed wire and a buffer of police officers.

In the Nov. 3 assassination attempt, a gunman opened fire at close range as Rubaz Khan’s open container truck was passing through a busy street in the city of Wazirabad in Punjab province.

Tight security was in place and a police official told local television channel Geo TV that a total of 10,000 personnel had been deployed for the event, with snipers deployed at various points for Khan’s security.

The former prime minister has named Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and a senior military official for plotting his assassination, but both the government and the army have denied involvement in the murder. Sharif has demanded a transparent investigation. After this incident, one person was arrested and claimed that he acted alone.

Khan has not provided any evidence to support his claim.

Supporters of Imran Khan, former Prime Minister of Pakistan.
Khan delivered his speech on Saturday hundreds of meters away from a crowd of 25,000 to 30,000 people separated by barbed wire and a buffer of police officers. [Anjum Naveed/AP Photo]

‘red alert’

Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah – whom Khan accuses of involvement in the assassination plot – issued a red alert on Friday, warning of security threats at the rally.

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The government says the assassination attempt was the work of a lone wolf, who is now in custody.

Saturday’s march came two days after the government named a former spy as its next military chief.

The appointment of General Syed Asim Munir ended months of speculation over what was long considered the real power in the nuclear-armed Islamic nation of more than 220 million people.

Munir served as head of the Inter-Services Intelligence Agency under Khan, but his tenure ended after just eight months after the conflict was reported.

The leader of the Tehreek-e-Insaf Party, who accused the hand of the army in his removal, welcomed the new army chief. He praised the army as a professional force but added that they must obey the constitution.

Pakistan’s military, the world’s sixth largest, wields considerable influence in the country and has staged at least three coups since independence in 1947, ruling for more than three decades.

Imran Khan, former prime minister and opposition leader of Pakistan.
In the Nov. 3 assassination attempt, a gunman opened fire at close range as Rubaz Khan’s open-top container truck drove through a busy street in the city of Wazirabad in Punjab province. [Anjum Naveed/AP Photo]

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